For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and glory - honor, splendor and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalms 84:11

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sunbreak Soaps

Just thought I'd post here so that people knew what was up with me!

I've started my own soap making business, and along with it a new soap blog. I've realized over the past two weeks that there is no way that I can effectively maintain two blogs, and since my focus right now is on soap, I thought I'd post a link here for anyone who might be interested!

I've also opened an Etsy store -

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Long Time No Post

I know, I've been out of the loop for quite a long time now. At this point, I'm not even sure why I'm posting, does anyone even read this anymore?

*tap tap* "Is this thing on?"

Well, no matter. I'm still interested in writing, so I will.

Life has been hectic and crazy, per usual. I'm now "Officially" home schooling. We ordered the Sonlight curriculum and we just wrapped up Week 5. We're really enjoying it, and it's amazing how much the girls have blossomed since we've started. Each time I ask myself, "Hm, maybe this is over their heads." They rebound with responses that surprise me, and bring things up weeks after I've taught them topics that I was SURE they didn't get. Hubs and I each keep being faced with problems we hear other parents having with different schools, and it just reinforces our decision to keep the girls home. They're happy here, I'm happy here, and overall we feel that it brings us closer together by learning things together.

Yes, I'm learning too! I keep reading over and over again in books about home schooling that it's excellent for children to learn by example - namely that mom and dad learn things they're interested in and pursue those interests with passion. For a long time now I've wanted to learn how to make soap. So about a month ago I reserved every book in our library system about soap making. The following week our house was covered with books about soap, and me and the kids poured over them with abandon! I learned about sponification, and trace, and color, and fragrance, and various techniques. It was fascinating!

In conjunction with all of this, we were sick. So all we could really do was read. And right there is another reason why it's good for us to home school, we have literally been sick for 3 out of the past 4 months. Just think of all the school the girls would have missed! We're currently in the midst of our 4th cold of the season - and as a result, I decided we needed to do a little lesson on germs! So I found this great set of lesson plans, FOR FREE, and we're on lesson 2.

As part of my research, I compared prices on soap making supplies and found a vendor in my area that has excellent prices AND I could go shop at their store and buy what I needed! SCORE! As soon as we were well we went and picked up the basic things that we needed and rushed home to make soap. At this point, I've made 3 batches of different kinds of melt and pour soap, and oh man is it fun and addicting! I am not much of a crafty person, but this might actually be a craft I can get into! So many different variations that you can make, all right in your very own kitchen, and with the possibility of profit once I've mastered it! I'm so excited, and having such a blast with it!

The girls just completed their first set of dance classes. They had their recital last night, and it was so adorable! Hubs, my parents, and my brother came to see the performance, and the girls did a great job. I'm sure we'll sign them up again for the next round of classes. It was a great time together with the family, we haven't all been in one place since Thanksgiving!

So if you're reading this, thanks for sticking around! I'm going to try to be a better blogging buddy, and if you comment here I'll be sure to visit your blog and see what you've been up to. :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Mystery of the Missing Measuring Cups


I was given the cups by my mother when I moved into my first apartment. She had been searching garage sales and thrift stores for months gathering a little bit of this and a little bit of that. She made quite the score when she found these cute vintage 1940's style tin measuring cups for $2 at Goodwill. They were one of my most treasured items that she gave me, and I used them nearly every day. No one ever complimented me on my cute measuring cups, but it didn't matter, because I loved them. Their simple design was pleasing to the eye and I couldn't help but think, "Who owned these cups before me? Did she make bread? Did she make pie? Was she a muffin kind of gal? Or was it cookies?" I imagined her, in her cute little apron and her perfectly manicured nails and done up hair-do.


The girls were about 2 years old when disaster struck. I don't remember what I was doing, or what they were doing. Only noticed that one day I went to use my 1/2 cup measuring cup and it was gone. I went through everything in my kitchen. The dish drain, the drawer it belonged in, the toy box, the bath tub, every little hiddy hole that I thought the girls might stash something away in. But nothing. It was gone. I was so upset! What did I do with it? Did Hubs put it someplace strange trying to "help"? No? Well, it must have been the kids then... those darn kids!

Where oh where could it be???

And then I had a thought... the trash. The girls were going through a phase where they thought putting things in the trash was fun. We'd caught them several times trying to throw away "good stuff" like the remote control. Well, that must be it then. It went in the trash. It was gone forever.

Renewal (... sort of...)

Six months later, and still no sign of the missing measuring cup. This whole time I've been using the 1/4 cup twice each time I had to measure something and each and every time I was reminded of my incomplete set. I was still irritated about it.

Hubs thought he came up with the perfect solution, he searched the internet and found another cup set and bought it for my birthday. Alas, this "new" set was more than just antique, it was antique. It was darkened in color, had several dents, and one of the cups had a hole in the bottom. They were perfect for a display of old kitchenware, but not something I could use on a daily basis. I went on with my 1/4 cup twice.

After that I looked into buying new measuring cups. I gave up on the idea of finding another 1940's style cups and found myself browsing Bed Bath & Beyond and Anthropologie (which do have some cute cups by the way!). But nothing was quite the same. Sure, the new cups were nice, but they just weren't me. The new cups didn't have some other lady making cakes with them years ago.

I'd tell the story of the missing cup to anyone who'd seem remotely interested. Usually other mom's with young kids understood the significance of my loss. It was more than just treasured measuring cups. It was about personal space, and how we as mom's give that up when we bring kids into the world. Nothing is "mine" anymore. All of "my" stuff gets messed with, broken, lost, tangled up, marked up, and dented. Nothing stays the way I left it. Nothing is in the same place. I put something down so I can take a pee only to come back and have it gone! Just gone! And after a while I start to feel like a crazy person! "But... it was just THERE a second ago!"

The cup at this point had been missing for over a year. I was getting tired with the 1/4 cup twice. One day, I was browsing Etsy and I was very excited when I happened to find a set of measuring cups EXACTLY like mine. They were tin, and old, but functional. They were $40, but I didn't care. I bought them.


I now had three (mostly complete) sets of antique measuring cups. I thought that was pretty much the end of the story.

Several weeks before Christmas I was working on baking some goodies for gifts when I was clearing out the dish drain and realized... I was missing another cup. It was the 1/4 cup this time. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Where is my cup?!?!? Is nothing sacred around here???" I questioned both of the girls, at 4 and a half they are completely capable of remembering where they put things. They said they didn't know. I questioned Hubs, he didn't know. I questioned my mother-in-law who had just flown in from out of state, she didn't know. I backtracked my own actions, opened cupboards I knew I was into, looked through everything. Nothing. Then I called my mom and lamented on the phone, "Again?" she said. Yup, again.

Thankfully, I now had a stash of measuring cups! I got out the 1/4 cup from the set I bought and went on with my baking.

I told the story Christmas Day to a rapt audience. We laughed about how funny it was that it happened AGAIN! YEARS later. And that I still don't know what happened to them. They were just gone, into the abyss. Along with the missing socks that never come out of the dryer. It was just going to be one of those things... Amy and her missing measuring cups. Wonder what ever happened to those?

And then two days after Christmas the most amazing thing happened. I was putting away my big crock pot, you know, the one that goes into the back of the cupboard that I pretty much never use, and I looked down, and there inside my 1940's tin egg poacher were not just one, but BOTH of the missing measuring cups!!! They were neatly stacked one inside the other. "I can't BELIEVE MY EYES!!! I CAN NOT believe my eyes!!!" I laughed and laughed! I ran upstairs cups in hand to where my mother-in-law and daughters were playing. "Do you SEE this?? Do you SEE what's in my hand right now??! It's my CUPS!!!!" I told them where I found them to which my mother-in-law said, "I guess you don't poach eggs that often." Nope, I use the microwave instead.

Which of course begs the question, "Which one of you girls put them there???" To which, I got blank stairs and "Uhhh...I don't know, Mommy." I have a hunch which child hid my measuring cups, but it's just one of those mysteries that will live on.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Week in Preschool

This week was pretty mellow. We've been taking turns being sick for nearly a month now. First it was colds, then stomach flu, then colds again. Yesterday Little Z was diagnosed with the croup. Hurray. So between, "Mommy, I don't talk so good." and me and Hubs taking turns on the porcelain throne (sorry, TMI) we haven't done a whole lot.

We did have a window of wellness this last weekend though, thank goodness, because I was going insane.

So we went to the Festival of Lights at the Grotto. For those who haven't been, I highly recommend it. Back in the day, my high school choir did an appearance there each year. Most nights here in Portland you can expect wind, cold, sideways down-pouring rain, and generally horribly cold, wet, weather. We happened to pick a night that was DRY and without wind! It was a Christmas miracle!

There are lots of things I like about the Festival, but this year was the first year I took the girls so each thing that we saw made me think, "Wow, this is an excellent learning opportunity." When you walk in, there are stations of lights depicting scenes from the Nativity story with audio narration. You walk a bit more, there's another spot with lights and story. The lights are impressive, but the story is amazing and chokes me up.

And then there are the choirs. The Festival hosts the largest gathering of choral groups during the Christmas season. I'm not sure how many choirs will perform during the course of the Festival, but it's a lot. Looking at the program there are 5-8 choirs that perform nightly and the festival will go on until Christmas Day. It was a great opportunity for little ones to see and experience live music! I know personally, that we probably wouldn't pay for the kids to see a concert that we most likely would have to leave after 20 minutes, but we can certainly sit for 20 minutes and leave a performance if we need to in a venue like this. To round things out, there was also a petting zoo, a display of Nativities from around the world, and a puppet show. We really enjoyed it and I think the girls learned a lot. It was a great intro to the Christmas season!

Our other preschool activities this week were pretty basic. We learned about the letters C and D. We did some letter tracing and name writing practice. We talked about things that start with each letter, and what kind of sounds they make. I checked out a phonics DVD from the library and we watched that. We also watched a Nature episode "My Life as a Turkey". Ziva liked it so much that she's requested to watch it twice - so we watched it again. We spread out some uncooked rice on a cookie sheet and used it to practice writing their names as well as the letters C and D. The girls LOVE "rice time".

We've also got our Advent wreath set up and we're going through a book called Getting Ready for Christmas: A Daily Advent Prayer & Activity Book for the Family. Each page is very colorful, and it has a brief scripture verse along with a prayer and an activity. The activity is usually something open ended like, "Make an angel ornament for the Christmas tree." I'm usually able to take the suggestions and then look online for something simple to do. So far we have printed out a small angel coloring page, colored it, glued it to construction paper with a loop of ribbon between. It took us about 15 minutes. Today the activity was "Make a sheep ornament or draw/color a sheep." I printed out a cute shepherd/sheep coloring page and we colored it. Easy peasy. But it gave us the opportunity to talk about how a shepherd takes care of his sheep and that God is like our Good Shepherd who provides for all of our needs.

My plan for next week:

I printed out the local school district's Preschool Packet. The packet is supposed to supply enough things to do for a month, but we usually find that it will only last that long if we add in a bunch of other stuff! The packet this week goes over the letters E and F, so we'll focus on those letters. We'll continue to do the activities suggested in the Getting Ready for Christmas book. I have about 20 Christmas books checked out from the library, so we'll do a bunch of reading. I also bought everything we need to make birdseed ornaments to use as gifts from the girls to the family members for Christmas. I'm sure we'll also do some baking. Lots of cookies need to be made this month for gifts!

I linked this post to Homeschool Creations Moments to Remember!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Too Much Stimuli

As Americans, it's part of our culture to be busy. It's our national virtue. We work more hours than any other culture in the world. We are taught at a very early age that it's our job to be productive. We fill up most of our life with tasks that need to be accomplished. We give our kids chore charts, we make lists, we carry planners, and when we have conversations with people and they ask what we've been up to lately we lament, "Oh, I've been SO busy!"

But who made us busy? Did we somehow allow everyone around us to decide for us how to spend our time? Maybe sometimes that's the case, but most of us make that decision for ourselves. For most of us, the first question we ask ourselves when we finish a task is "What's next?"

The problem with this culture of busyness is that it doesn't allow for down time. It values a person for how much they can get done in one day instead of how much time we spend with our loved ones or how much time we spend on reflection.

Here at our house, we have been sick for nearly a week. Each family member has taken turns with the stomach flu. It was terrible, except for one thing. We had lots of time. We could easily say no to outside interference, and say yes to doing nothing. It gave me a lot of time to think and read.

I made it through two books about home schooling: Christian Unschooling by Teri J. Brown and School Starts at Home by Cheri Fuller. Both emphasize a need to "unplug" from electronic stimuli AND a strict busy schedule in order for natural learning opportunities to occur. Children have less motivation to turn to reading, pretend play, or educational activities if they are constantly being entertained by television, computers, electronic toys, OR extracurricular activities.

Having grown up in a house with a mother who HATED television, this concept is nothing new to me. But what struck me as "new" while reading these books is that it's not just the kids who can be effected by too much stimulation, I am just as vulnerable. I am just as likely to turn to Facebook or browsing the internet during a down moment rather than doing something that would be more nourishing to my mind and spirit. Instead of writing on my blog, which is an excellent outlet for me because it requires thought and contemplation, I play Sims. Instead of spending time in prayer, or doing personal devotions, I watch TV. Instead of reading a book, I... well, you get the point. I expend so much head space on things that have no value, and avoid the things that do with the thought, "I'll do that when I have more time." When exactly will that happen?

In one part of "Christian Unschooling" a mom struggling with scheduling commented on praying over her day planner. Specifically, she prayed that God would lead them throughout the day and that He would guide her children to whatever He wanted them to learn that day. I thought that was such a beautiful thought, because ultimately we as parent's control only a tiny amount of what our children need to learn. Praying, and recognizing, that God is the one who controls these things helps put our anxieties at ease. It allows us as parents to share the burden of raising our children with God, rather than try to carry that yoke on our own (and it's a very heavy yoke at that!). It's something that I need to do more of. As always: a little more You, and a little less me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New to home preschool? Me too.

I'm half way through my third week of home preschool'ing my kids.

And check it out, I'm still alive!

Some amazing stuff has happened during these short few weeks. I've learned a lot about my kids. I've learned a lot about different home school philosophies. I've developed a routine that seems to work for us, although I'm sure it will improve.

Four year olds are amazing. All you have to do is open your mouth, and they respond with questions. They're so eager to know everything, and so ready to jump in when they think they already know. This age seems to be all about learning and absorbing, so teaching them isn't hard. The hard part seems to be getting them to slow down for three seconds! As soon as we finish an activity or project the first question is usually, "What's next, Mommy?"

Ummmmmm..... uhhh.... I guess we better think about that for a minute.

There are a few things that have helped on this brief foray into the unknown, and since I spent so much time grasping at straws I figure I'd outline those things in case anyone else out there could use a hand. Keep in mind, I am NOT an expert, I'm a blundering first-time mom/first-time homeschooler.

- Don't freak out, it's just preschool. This was the wisest bit of info that a friend told me and she was absolutely right. There is no failure here, it's not even required for kids to go to preschool, you really can't mess this up. So relax!

- Check out the Library. They have amazing resources both for you and for your kids. Kids learn a lot just from reading. So even if they just pick out a bunch of books and take them home they'll learn a lot from that. I've made it our goal to read at least 2 new books a day. So we go once a week and check out about 10-14 books. When we get home, I put all but 2 of them away so that we can have something new to read each day. This seems to help keep their interest level high when each day we can read something "new". The Library also has plenty of books on home schooling. I check out one a week and try to read it.

- Check your local school district's website. My school district has printable preschool packets that have a full curiculum that's seasonally appropriate for each month. It includes activities, worksheets, and book lists. If your district doesn't offer one then feel free to click here.

- There are homeschool co-ops out there where homeschooling families get together one or two days a week to do more in depth classes. My local co-op doesn't offer anything for preschoolers, but yours might.

- Parks and Rec usually has some kind of classes that you can sign up your kids for. Mine offers a movement/dance class. I plan to sign them up in January. Check other places like your community center. This is something I need to do more of, but in the little I've heard there's a lot of options.

- Coloring pages! There are a ton of them out there, just google whatever subject matter might be appropriate. I recently found some awesome pages with turkey's and pilgrims by searching "Thanksgiving coloring pages".

Websites that I've found exceedingly helpful:

Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations: She's amazing! I have been using her wonderful thematic preschool printables since day 1. My kids love the activities, and her ideas are terrific. I check her page every day, and I love all of her organizational aids! She really is the one who gave me the courage to even try this.

I Can Teach My Child: An excellent blog with wonderful craft ideas! The thing that strikes me the most about this site is that each activity is meant to point our children to Christ. It's beautifully done!

Kaboose: I love the craft ideas here! I'm so uncrafty, and these ideas are simple and actually look like something you'd want to display in your home rather than immediately chuck in the bin.

If you know of any other great home schooling sites I'm all ears!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Recipe: Bierocks

I recently read an article about the beauty of recipes that have been passed down for generations, and how those who know how to make such things NEED to pass on that knowledge whether anyone asks for it or not. It's the duty of the knowledge holders to find someone who wants to learn. Otherwise the knowledge is lost.

Thankfully, my grandmother (who turned 95 this past August) has generously passed down her recipes. A few years ago my sweetheart of an aunt, Aunt Charlotte, started the monumental project of tracing over all of my grandmother's faded pencil written recipes and making photo copies of them, printing them, binding them, and distributing them to all the relatives. Sadly, my aunt passed away before her project was finished. But her husband and some other relatives pressed on and completed it. Thanks to them, we all have a copy of my grandmother's cook book.

The title? Kissin' Don't Last, Cookin' Do.

I've been trying to make a point of making something out of this book for my family each month, and of course I'm starting with the things I remember. And since my Dad specifically requested Bierock's for his birthday it made sense to start with that.

Bierock's are essentially an eastern European version of a savory hand pie. Seems like nearly every culture has their version: empanada's and calzone's come to mind. It's a convenience food. It can be wrapped in a lunch box, eaten on the go, made in a huge batch it freezes well for a quick weeknight meal. Add a salad, and you're in business.

This time around, I took my grandma's recipe and combined it with some other recipes that I found online. And I had one lonely carrot in my crisper, so I threw that in too.

It all starts with 2 lbs of hamburger in a skillet browned with an onion and minced garlic clove. Once that's done, add 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper. Then shred a small head of cabbage and put that in, along with 2 Tablespoons of worcestershire sauce and 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds. Cook until cabbage is wilted. The end result is this:

Then you get out your dough. You can use whatever you like. I know my grandma makes her own, and I've heard that you can also use those refrigerated biscuits from a can. I used two loaves of frozen dough, and then I set it on my counter to thaw/rise according the the package directions. It takes about 4-6 hours depending upon the temperature of your room.

Then I rolled out one loaf at a time and cut it into 6 wedge shapes.

Put 1/4 cup of the filling on each wedge and then fold the corners to the center and press the seams together. It doesn't have to be perfect, remember, this is a peasant dish.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. The result is a heavenly smell in your kitchen and hot yumminess inside of bread.


2 loaves of frozen bread dough, thawed
2 lbs of ground beef
1 yellow onion
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 small head of cabbage
2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1. Place bread dough in a greased bowl on the counter and cover with towel for about 4-6 hours before you're planning to cook. If you need to leave it longer than that you can thaw in the fridge overnight.
2. Brown ground beef with onion and garlic. Add salt and lemon pepper. Shred the cabbage and add it once the beef is cooked along with worchestershire sauce and caraway seeds. Drain liquid.
3. Roll out dough 1 loaf at a time on a floured surface. Cut into 6 wedge shapes. Place 1/4 cup meat mixture onto each wedge. Fold each corner to the center and press seams together so that no meat is exposed. Perfection is not part of this recipe. Rustic is a good word for it. :) Place each pastry on a cookie sheet.
4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin